Puerto Rico’s mayors describe widespread devastation from Hurricane Maria

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – Within the northern Puerto Rican city of Vega Baja, the floodwaters reached greater than 10 ft. Stranded residents screamed “save me, save me,” utilizing the lights of their cellphones to assist rescue groups discover them within the darkness, the city’s mayor stated.

In Loiza, a north coastal city that already had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma, ninety % of houses – three,000 – have been destroyed by Hurricane Maria simply days later. In communities throughout the island, bridges collapsed and highways have been severely broken, isolating many residents. In Rio Grande, officers had but to entry a variety of households caught of their houses, three days after the highly effective storm made landfall.

When talking about his city’s destruction, Ramon Hernandez Torres, mayor of the southern metropolis of Juana Díaz, took an extended pause, his voice catching and his eyes filling with tears.

“It’s a complete catastrophe,” he stated.

Hurricane Maria pounded the complete island of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, however the scope of the injury had been speculative and unclear since, largely as a result of cities throughout the U.S. territory have been utterly off the grid. Although pictures from the air confirmed unimaginable destruction, mayors have been unable to succeed in central authorities for management and assist as a result of communication was unattainable. No telephones, cellphones, or Web. No energy. No passage via roads that had been washed away or blocked with timber and energy strains.

However on Saturday, for the primary time in days, mayors and representatives from greater than 50 municipalities throughout Puerto Rico met with authorities officers on the emergency operations command middle right here within the island’s capital metropolis. Most of the mayors discovered concerning the assembly by means of media reviews over satellite tv for pc radio the night time earlier than. One mayor stated his employees was knowledgeable after a person ran to his workplaces with a observe telling him to make his method to San Juan.

Roughly 20 different mayors throughout the island nonetheless haven’t been capable of make contact with authorities officers, leaving main gaps within the broader understanding of the injury Maria left behind.

The mayors greeted one another with hugs and tears, they usually pleaded with their governor for a few of the issues their communities want most: consuming water, prescribed drugs, gasoline, oxygen tanks, and satellite tv for pc telephones. All the inhabitants stays with out electrical energy. Households in all places are unable to purchase meals or medical remedy. Roads…

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